Camera testing at sunset

WHAT a sunset!

I took a trip up into the hills and to the zigzag path to watch the sunset with my lovely boyfriend, Michael.

Camera testing 3

Wish I was on that plane, going on a holiday!

We’re so lucky to live so close to such a peaceful spot and it was great just to sit back and take it all in.

I got to test out my new tripod and camera remote at the same time.

Camera testing

Oh, Michael!

(I’ll admit, it took me a while to figure out that the remote had to be pointed at the front of the camera for it to work.)

I’m really excited to get out and take some cool night photos soon!

Camera testing 1

What I’ve learned from six months of blogging

IT’S been a big six months!
When I first started this little spot on the internet, I had no idea how much I would love it.
While I put off starting this for months longer than I should have, I was really glad when I finally did.
It’s been a massive learning curve though! Here are some of the things I picked up on during the past six months.

What I've learned in six months of blogging | Extraordinary Days blog

It’s been a whirlwind ride!

Everything takes time:
From brainstorming ideas to writing posts, taking photos and putting posts together, blogging is a time-consuming process.
That doesn’t even take into account all the time you’ll spend on your blog’s Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin and Pinterest pages to promote your blog!
This is something I really didn’t expect when I started this blog. It’s a labour of love but it takes a while to put everything together!

You have to be organised:
It just won’t work if you aren’t.
I have to fit in a full-time job, about two and a half hours per day commuting, seeing friends and sleep. It can be done but it isn’t easy.
When I started writing this post I was on a plane, watching Captain America – you just learn to fit in blog activities with your schedule.
For example, I get my lovely family and friends to take outfit photos before events and I’ll take a range of photos in advance so they’re ready to use whenever I need them.

Other people are so inspiring:
There are so many people out there creating amazing content.
Whether they’ve been blogging for a few years or a few months, there are a lot of really cool people on the Internet!
Twitter and Bloglovin are the ways I use most to find new blogs. (Check out my Twitter feed here, I’m always retweeting awesome content from wicked bloggers I find!)

Don’t expect people to interact with your blog if you don’t do it with anyone else’s:
Your blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Unfortunately there are people out there that think just promoting their own content is enough – but interacting with others is an awesome part of the blogger community!
The best way to do this is read, read and read some more! And if you like what you’ve read, let the author know!
Joining a Twitter chat is also a great way to meet new people and bounce ideas off each other. Check out these great list of blog chats I found here and here – so useful!)
We’re all in this together!

Sponsored posts are a very fine line to tread:
While there are bloggers out there who can pull of doing a sponsored post (they’ve usually been doing it for a while and have a great reputation), it’s not for everyone.
I find it frustrating that so many new bloggers say yes to everything that gets sent to them.
Most of the time I have no idea if that’s what they actually think about a product or it’s what they want the company to read.
Building up a strong reputation first is important so people know they can trust you.

Some days you just don’t be feeling it:
Blog burnout is real.
There are times where you won’t want to even look at your computer screen, let alone create and promote posts. I went through a really stressful time last month (which helped me create this post about awesome ways to tackle stress)
On days like this, it’s OKAY to take a break, switch off for a day and do something you enjoy.
You’ll feel better in the long run and come back refreshed.

Have fun and do it because you love it:
There are a lot of people who give blogging a go and just don’t love it as much as others.
But for those who stick around, it’s because they absolutely love what they do.
It’s your little space on the Internet, do with it what you will!

I’m looking forward to another big six months!
I can’t thank you enough for reading this blog, whether you’ve been around from the start or whether this is your first visit.
Without you, this would be much more like shouting into the void and I love sharing my life and experiences in this way.

Do you have a blog? What have you learned? (Also, make sure to post a link to your blog so I can check it out!)

Time for tea!

OH HOW I love tea!
I’ve never been a coffee drinker and while until recently my morning beverage of choice was a Red Bull, I’ve always enjoyed a cuppa throughout the day, especially in the cooler weather.
But as I’ve been making the switch to finally having less caffeine (like I’ve been saying I would for years), tea has become an even better friend so I wanted to share my favourite brews with you.

Time for tea - my favourite blends | Extraordinary Days blog

Time for a cuppa!

T2 Melbourne Breakfast:

This English breakfast-type tea is my favourite to have with milk. It’s got hints of vanilla which gives it a really sweet taste. Predictably, it’s much better than T2’s Perth Breakfast, which is more like an earl grey. Perfect with morning or afternoon tea or after dinner if you’re not up to dessert. At the moment I’m using loose leaves with a T2 mesh ball.


Red Seal Relaxing Tea:

Red seal relaxing tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Great for nerves.

This caffeine-free herbal tea has been a massive lifesaver in recent times. I found it in a health food store while I was looking for something to help me de-stress! (For other excellent ways to calm down when things get rough, check out this other post I wrote.)

The tea has passion flower, strawberry leaf, valerian and, my personal favourite, catnip. I know valerian root tablets work for me when I’m having trouble sleeping so I think that’s the ingredient that has the biggest impact for me, but not so much that it makes me drowsy at work. I’d definitely recommend this one!


Twinings Herbal Infusions Pure Peppermint:

Twinings peppermint tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Fresh breath is a plus.

Lately I’ve been turning to peppermint tea after big meals as it’s supposed to help with digestion. This light Twinings blend also leaves me with a tingly mouth and fresh breath, bonus! No milk needed for this one.

 

Planet Organic Female Balance Herbal Tea:

Planet Organic Female Balance Tea | Extraordinary Days blog

Worth a try!

I picked up this tea when I was searching for something to help out with my skin, which was completely breaking out! I’m not sure of how much a difference this one makes but it’s worth a try if you’re searching for another way to help your skin. It has liquorice root, sage leaf, nettle leaf, chamomile flowers and lemongrass.

And with all this tea, you’re going to need some cute things to drink it out of!
This lovely Kikki K set was a birthday gift from two even lovelier friends of mine, Helen and Kerrie. (But you can get a similar set of your own here and here!)

Kikki K teapot and cup set | Extraordinary Days blog

Such a cute little set!

Kikki K tea cup set | Extraordinary Days blog

Live bright. Be you.

Sammy | Extraordinary Days blog

My little photoshoot helper, Sammy.

Are you a tea fan? What are your favourite types?

 

What to do when you’re completely stressed out!

What to do when you're completely stressed out | Extraordinary Days blog

STRESS. It comes and goes but some times are worse than others.
When I mentioned that April had been a really crazy month for me in this post,  I was describing it lightly.
There were some intense problems at work and I took on some extra freelance writing as well and it was way too much!
Why I thought I could fit in hours of extra work on top of my full-time job, commuting for almost three hours each day and keeping this blog going, I have no idea.
I was exhausted, more stressed than I’ve ever been, irritable, unable to enjoy anything and I couldn’t make any headway in my work.
Luckily, things have calmed down a lot more now. At the very least it was a great learning experience and I am now more familiar with what my limits are.
But how do you know when you’re at that point?

I’m not an expert but these are some of the things I picked up on:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constant worrying
  • Feeling tense, or having lots of pent-up energy
  • Feeling guilty about time spend relaxing or not working
  • Irritability or feeling constantly close to tears


How to fix it:

  • Make a list of what’s bothering you and possible solutions. This may help you figure out what problems you can tackle first and which ones will require more work to solve.
  • Sleep more. You’re never your best self when you’re tired so getting some shut eye might help you keep calm.
  • Eat healthy meals and eat enough. Look, I’m not the healthiest person but I know I get agitated when I’m hungry so making sure you eat is important. Making it something healthy is going to help because you need good fuel to run that body of yours.
  • Up your vitamin intake. To help counteract all the stress you’re is dealing with, vitamin B can be a great stress-reliever and echinacea, garlic, zinc and vitamin C will increase your immune system’s ability to cope with any bugs.

    What to do when you're completely stressed out | Extraordinary Days blog

    Vitamin B and echinacea, garlic, zinc and vitamin C.

  • Talk it over with someone you trust. Sharing what you’re going through with someone you can rely on can help you get your head around what’s bothering you and they may be able to help you brainstorm ideas for ways to help. At the very least, it will get it off your chest. A problem shared is a problem halved, right?
  • Get moving. I absolutely cannot recommend this more. When I’m feeling wound up and anxious, getting rid of that excess adrenaline makes a huge difference. It can be as simple as a brisk walk around the block. I’ve also started walking regularly  and I feel so much better for it.
  • Try a herbal remedy. Okay, part of me doesn’t want to believe that herbs and flowers can help calm you down, but it’s worked for me. Valerian root can help you sleep (but may cause nightmares in some people, just as a heads up) and I found it in a tea that really helped calm me down. Rescue Remedy has been a staple in my purse for years and lately I’ve also been using Brauer Calm tablets (a homeopathic remedy for stress) and Tinderbox lavender balm (which is a calming, soothing scent and Tinderbox is a Western Australian-made brand, too!). Whether the placebo effect has made a difference in my case remains to be seen, but I figured that if it could help, I was going to give it as try.
Natural stress relievers | Extraordinary Days blog

Rescue Remedy spray, Brauer Calm tablets and Tinderbox Lavender Balm.

  • Try yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. Focussing on your breath can assist in calming the mind and stretching can get rid of any tension you’ve built up in your muscle. I wrote another post about how yoga apps are totally awesome!
  • Get colouring. It’s not just for kids any more! Heaps of adults are now spending their down-time colouring in. My lovely friend Lisha gave me Creative Therapy – an anti-stress colouring book for my birthday and it’s great! The monotonous activity is surprisingly soothing.

    Colouring books for adults | Extraordinary Days

    This is a great way to spend some time out!

  • Allow yourself some time every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes, to do something you enjoy. This can be as easy as reading a book, looking at cat videos or painting your nails.
  • Take regular breaks. I wrote another post about why it’s so important to take your lunch break. You deserve it!
  • Get some help from the experts. If you’re in a rough spot and really struggling, talking to your GP or another mental health professional about what you’re going through, or getting some more information from places like beyondblue or Lifeline should be your next step.

Hopefully with these tips you can help get rid of some of the tension in your life.
What are your go-to ways to relieve stress? Let me know in the comments!

Sneaker heels and aviator sunglasses

A FEW years ago I would have said these shoes were hideous and impractical, but somehow they’ve won me over.
I wore this outfit on my birthday on the 16th – how was that already over a week ago?
This month has been insane and has gone so quickly.
It was the first time I wasn’t able to get the day off on my birthday but I am lucky enough to have lovely colleagues who made my day great!

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

Just caught the last of the sunshine!

I picked up the sneaker heels in Valley Girl on one of my last trips to Melbourne and they fast became my favourite shoes to travel in.
I like the relaxed vibe they give to this outfit and I know they’ll give my boots a run for their money this winter.

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

The perfect outfit for a lazy day running errands or going to lunch.

And how great are the glasses?! I’ve been eyeing off reflective sunnies for ages but I just can’t pull off the completely round frames that every off-duty model seems to be sporting these days.
So when I spotted this aviator-style pair in Cotton On (during a strictly guilt-free birthday shopping trip on my birthday) I knew I needed them in my life!
These Jay Jays jeans are good, sturdy staples that have lasted for ages even though they were cheap.
When it comes to jeans I’m really not fussy – I’ve worn more expensive ones and they give just the same as cheap version.

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

These heels are surprisingly comfortable.

I picked up the top from a clothes swap event so I have no idea what brand it is! I love how it’s light and the shape the cuffed sleeves gives it.
On my wrist is my Fitbit – a lovely birthday gift from Michael – and it’s helping me keep track of all the running around I do. With a shirt this shiny I really didn’t feel the need for any more jewellery.
The lipstick is MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus – it’s such an awesome shade of pink! (Watch this space for a separate review of it soon.)
And last but not least, a simple black bag brings the whole thing together!

Sneaker heels, sparkly top and aviator sunglasses | Extraordinary Days

This lipstick is MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus.

What do you think of sneaker heels? Would you give them a try?

Getting flexible with a yoga app

YOGA is incredible! Unfortunately, going to classes doesn’t always fit into your schedule or budget.
That’s where the Yoga Studio App comes in.
I discovered this app a few months ago when I was looking for a way to get more active and because I wanted a way to stretch, relax and strengthen my muscles.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

This app is seriously awesome!

I have trouble with a lot of tense and weak spots – my neck, shoulders and back are usually tight from my desk job and long commute and my weak glutes (yes, my physio told me I have a weak butt) have caused me a fair amount of knee pain.
I’ve been to a proper yoga class before and it was one of the most intense experiences of my life – my arms and legs have never shaken so much!
But, not wanting to spend much money or buy anything special, I downloaded the Yoga Studio app for about $4, picked a class and got started.
Using the app at home meant I could start slow and, if I’m honest, do a class in my pajamas.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

You can choose from a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced classes.

The classes are easy to follow, have relaxing background music and a calming instructor’s voice and the video shows you every move and the beginner’s classes weren’t too overwhelming.
You can choose between beginner, intermediate and advanced classes and whether you want to focus on flexibility, strength or a combination of the two.

Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

The ‘boat’ pose really works out your core muscles!

After only a couple of classes I remembered all of the poses and felt like I was moving through them more fluidly.
The thing I love most about this app is the different class lengths: 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes.
When I’m short on time, 15 minutes is easy to squeeze in and I like having the option of the hour-long class when I want a more intense workout.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

The app shows you every move, making it really easy to follow.

I invested in a yoga mat after a few weeks but before that I was practicing on a fluffy rug and felt that was sufficient.
The mat does help with trying to get the positioning of my feet right, though.
The app lets you study each of the poses before or after a class and you can create your own classes too.
I really like that you don’t have to use the internet after you download a class – it’s yours to play as many times as you like without running up a huge bill.

Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

Warrior is my favourite pose!

I tried to think of some downsides for this app, I really did. But I honestly couldn’t think of anything I wanted to change about it!
I’m still on the beginner’s classes but I really want to step it up over the next couple of months.
It was also really calming and it helped me wind down at the end of the day.
If you want to try yoga or want to get away from structured classes, this is the app to do it with!
Check out Yoga Studio here and happy stretching!

Why you should take a lunch break today

Taking a lunch break is far more important than you think | Extraordinary Days

It’s time to make a change! (Picture: supplied)

SOME things you’ve got to learn from experience.

A year ago I would never have thought something as small as taking a break every day at work could actually make a difference to my mood and mental health.

I would eat at my desk every day, never stopping to enjoy what I was having and never switching out of work mode.

I was always trying to fit more into my work hours and if I, god forbid, did stop for a rest I was always filled with guilt that I wasn’t making the most of absolutely every minute of my day.

It’s not until I went on leave recently that I realised just how important it is to actually take a break.

I’ve got a fairly stressful job and I’d pretty much run myself into the ground by the time I went on holidays.

You’re allocated that hour (or half hour) every working day, so why not take it?

It helps break up your day:

Feeling flat? Are the hours dragging by? That lunch break is yours to fill with whatever you like and at the end, you’re an hour closer to home time!

Okay, sometimes you end up more sleepy than when you started but getting some fresh air can help with that, even if it’s just a stroll around the block or stretching your legs for a few minutes.

It can give you a bit of peace:

Getting off the computer (or at least closing your work tabs) gives your brain a chance to have a break and, nine times out of ten, you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

This is especially useful when you’ve got to tackle an important task or something that needs a fresh set of eyes.

I love taking a bit of time to catch up on my Twitter feed or see what other awesome creators are posting on Bloglovin! Bringing in a book to read or watching an episode of a TV series is also a great option.

It gives you a chance to get things done:

Have you been waiting all week to send an important email or buy event tickets? This is your chance.

I work over an hour away from home so my evenings are pretty limited but having a break during the day gives me a chance to feel like I’m not working 24/7.

Taking the time to tick one important thing off your list is incredibly satisfying.

It can help lower you stress levels:

If your poor brain is constantly working overtime, it’s not going to be functioning at its best.

Stress and anxiety build up over time and can cloud your thinking processes. At the very least, you feel like crap.

Making a habit out of taking a while each day to focus on doing something that makes you happy is a great step to take towards improving your mental health.

To be fair, there are some days where taking a chunk of time away from work in the middle of the day isn’t possible, but making the effort most days can be incredible.

Take some time out – you deserve it!

 

Do you take a lunch break? Or do you wish you did?